Classic Coleslaw

Quick and EasyGluten-FreeVegetarianColeslaw

Coleslaw recipe with thinly sliced cabbage, carrots and green onion, seasoned with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar dressing. Learn how to make coleslaw at home - a simple, quintessential American picnic salad.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

What is Coleslaw

The word “coleslaw” comes from the Dutch word, “koolsla”, “kool” meaning cabbage and sla, lettuce or salad. The word entered our English language from the Dutch in New York in the late 1700s. Since then it has been a featured side dish at almost every picnic or barbecue in America.

How to Make Coleslaw

We have homemade coleslaw at least once a week, usually with fish, and often with burgers or hot dogs. This coleslaw recipe (our way of preparing it) is ridiculously easy with cabbage, carrot, and onions gently mixed and coated with mayonnaise, a dab of yellow mustard (which by the way is just Dijon mustard with some added turmeric), vinegar, and black pepper.

Classic homemade Coleslaw in bowl

Coleslaw Recipe Modifications

We also often make this coleslaw recipe without mayonnaise. Sometimes we dress it simply with seasoned rice vinegar. Sometimes we add some shredded green apple to the mix. You can easily adjust these coleslaw ingredients for your taste. (See links at the bottom of the recipe for more coleslaw ideas.)

Are you a coleslaw eater? If so, what’s your favorite way of preparing it?

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If you are making a lot of coleslaw, it's easiest to use a mandoline to slice the cabbage.

However you slice the cabbage, you'll have an easier time of it if you cut the head first in quarters, from the top through the core. Then lay a quarter wedge of cabbage on its side and cut out the core.


  • 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green or purple, or a mix)
  • 1 carrot, grated (large holes of a box grater)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)


Place the cabbage, carrot, and onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing ingredients and gently mix so that all of the shredded cabbage is coated with the dressing.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately.

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Southwestern Coleslaw - a great no-mayo version that includes cilantro, here on Simply Recipes

Asian Coleslaw - another no-mayo version, with napa cabbage, rice vinegar and sesame oil

Broccoli Slaw - a coleslaw made with broccoli stems, carrots and cabbage

Kale Slaw with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing - tangy coleslaw with the addition of shredded kale

Citrusy Cabbage Salad with Cumin and Coriander - a Middle Eastern inspired salad

Fennel Slaw with Mint Vinaigrette - great with seafood!


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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

62 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. John

    I added some chilli, celery salt, and lemon instead of vinegar.your slaw is amazing,

  2. Brian

    for a festive meal, classic coleslaw mixed with bay shrimp. Excellent side to a turkey dinner

  3. Sandy S

    Thumbs up on this classic Coleslaw recipe! It will be made again and again. I like many of the other ideas people have mentioned above and will try some of them, too. But, for ‘everyday coleslaw’ this is a winner! If I have cabbage, a carrot and a couple of green onions I will always be good to go, as I usually have the other ingredients on hand. Adding mustard or green onions to coleslaw is new to me but I do like them in this recipe! Really, it’s very good!


  4. Sky North

    Great, and other people’s recipes in the comments section look fab too. but you have the origin wrong, it is indeed from the Dutch but while you have “kool” right, for “cabbage”, in fact “sla” does NOT mean “salad”, it means “lettuce”! The original is “koolsalade” (it was simply shortened by the americans) and this is what you ask for in the Netherlands. Incidentally, while you can make coleslaw without mayo, and in fact Dutch coleslaw rarely has much if any mayo, you can’t make it without cabbage, as some people seem to. Raw cabbage is very healthy; in Germany they eat it almost daily. It has the same active ingredient as paracetamol, so if you want to avoid stress headaches, eat a portion of raw cabbage each day.
    My version is red and green cabbage (or even shredded Brussel sprouts), red onion, spring onions, thinly sliced carrots, halved cherry tomatoes and thinly cut and sliced red and green pepper, and finely chopped parsley, salt and lots of black pepper; all in a lemon, vinegar, oil and herb dressing. Occasionally with grated cheese and a tiny dash of mayo for sandwiches.

  5. sambacani

    Sam Bacani coolslaw filipino style.mayo,mustard,pineapple,japanese raddish (takuan) yellow.cabbage,carots,salt to taste,pepper,raisins,onion,and garlic powder.

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